Avoiding Conflict, To Say Something Or Bite Your Tongue?

279226_boxing_gloves_and_dumbells_1I know this has happened to you because it happens to me almost everyday, and that is having encounters with people (possibly coworkers or customers) who are stating their opinion or belief about something and you do not agree with at all.  In fact, sometimes we think to ourselves “They must be crazy to think this…come on”.

But the reality is that there are few people who think exactly the same way that you do, and maybe none.  So how do you handle these types of encounters without creating a conflict or worse yet an argument?

Remember no matter how wild, crazy or nuts-o you may think this person’s opinion is, it is their opinion and they should be respected for it.  Don’t you want to be respected for what you think and feel?

It always amazes me when I hear someone express their thoughts about something and the person that they are talking to, totally goes off on them just because they differ with their point of view.  What is that all about?  Don’t we all have freedom of speech?

Now I have to say that sometimes it is very hard to bite my tongue when someone says something against an important issue that I hold close to my heart, but bite it  I do, because 99.9% of the time it is not worth the challenge.

So what can you do?  How can you keep the boxing gloves off?  Well, you can agree to disagree, but in a way that they (the person who you do not agree with) doesn’t even know that you disagree.  Here are five things that you can do and say that will allow you to keep your cool and not upset the other person either.

1. Nod your head when they are speaking and lean into to them just a little and when they finish, say “wow I never thought of that before or I never saw it that way before”.  By shaking your head up and down, they think either your are in agreement with them or you think what they said is worthy of your positive thoughts.

2. Act a bit surprised and step back, nod your head saying “ I can see how you see that”.  The point being “them” you can see how they see it that way.

3. In a group setting and someone is talking you can just nod your head up and down and say “very interesting” or just “interesting”.  In the group setting it is much easier to do this.

4. A well placed thumb and forefinger on the chin and a slight nod stating “amazing, I will give that some thought, thanks for your input, opinion or idea”.  They are happy and you can either consider it, or not, but walk away in peace.

5. A delighted reaction (maybe hands up or a clap) stating “It is just so interesting that there are probably as many opinions on that topic as there are people.”  Then a little laugh and on to something else.

I think you probably get the point I am trying to get across, which is we do not have to agree at all, we can just disagree in an agreeable fashion most of the time.  No use getting into a battle when it can be avoided.

I have seen these techniques done and have done them myself time and again and it works beautifully.  We can let people speak their mind and not mind it at all, it is simple a process of mind over matter.  And the fact that most of the time, it is not worth the time to get into an argument.

Any other ideas on how to handle this type of situation?

The link below is to the blog Switched On, which had a post yesterday about how to avoid conflict, I felt it went right along with this post, so take a look.

The Secret to Avoiding Conflict

08/06/14

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15 thoughts on “Avoiding Conflict, To Say Something Or Bite Your Tongue?

  1. Hi Tina, great article! All of the points you raised work well and are valid when you are genuine. Insincerity will come across as mocking. When you want to see if from the other side genuinely that is when you can obtain influence.

    For certain topics to do this, in my opinion, you have to disengage from the emotion of being attached to your way of thinking and open up to the possibility something else may be ‘right’ or ‘true’ or just ‘different’ answer. In my experience if you let people feel that they have influenced you, they are open to being influenced by you.

    • Diana, I agree wholehearted with what you are saying about disengaging. Once you do you can open up and hear the other person, as we know many people have a hard time doing this.

      What amazes me still is that there are millions of different opinions and ideas, why do we even think that ours is the only one that is correct? I am sure it will probably always be that way.

      Thanks your your input and great blog, enjoy your evening

  2. Great post – and it is so true…as much as we dislike being judged harshly for expressing our opinions, so do others. I try to view differing points of view with genuine interest – it becomes another window into who the person is. When we truly stand back and listen dispassionately we are choosing to take the heat out of a potentially incendiary situation…(I also like adjectives like ‘incredible’ – it’s honest no matter which way it may be taken!)

    • Mimi, in thinking like you do, I have found people so much more interesting because I am listening to them and not thinking about what I think is right. And as you mentioned we like to be listened to…so what does that golden rule say? Thank you for your input, have a great evening!

  3. I think it’s very wise to utilize techniques to avoid conflict. The phrase that keeps coming to mind when I think about this issue is:

    “Choose your battles”

    A large percentage of the time, the conflict is just not worth it. The older I get, the more I’ve learned to just let things go. However, if it’s worth it to stand my ground, then I try to do so while still being respectful.

    I feel a lot lighter emotionally when I let things go that don’t really matter rather than getting involved in conflicts that usually don’t make things better.

    I’ve also had to become a lot better at respecting the other person’s point of view even if I don’t see things the same way. But that can be very difficult at times.

    • Hi Greg, I feel exactly the same way you do. As I age I have found that there are very few battle in which I want to engage. And I have found listening and really trying to understand others has become so much more important. One thing that I always think about when having encounters is did the person I just encounter leave me feeling good or better than before or worse. I want them to feel better. Thank you for your comment and input, enjoy the evening.

    • Wow David, I thought you were a peace lover 🙂

      I bet you would be a great one to hear when you were dealing with a difficult encounter….would they have a chance?

      Have a great evening and thank you for your comment

  4. Hello Tina,

    A very interesting post. I agree; in many situations conflict isn’t wanted or necessary. Your suggestions are great ways of avoiding conflict without having to agree with someone.

    However, there are occasions when we should not avoid conflict. Sometimes we need to challenge people directly. For instance, when someone makes a disparaging or offensive comment.

    Other times, we may think we have conflicting views. More often or not I find that there is common ground. It’s all about perspective. I take responsibility to look for areas of agreement.

    Finally, there are times when conflict is essential. Differences of opinions equals diversity. And diversity leads to innovation. So we should be open to new ideas and test them. That’s why I like your suggestions; they focus on the idea not the argument.

  5. Hi Martin, thank you for your comment. I agree that there are times when something needs to be said, we just need to find the best way to say as not to create an argument. Many times it not what we say as much as it is how we say it. Enjoy today!

  6. Hi Tina…wow lots of different comments about your post ..very inlightening…good saturday reading.

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